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The SaddleBrooke Swim Club has over 100 members, and of those members, 20 are 80 years and older! Currently, the oldest is 89, but the Swim Club has had members in their 90s and as old as 104 in past years. Many of the current octogenarians first joined when Doug Springer started the club in the early 2000s. All these members continue to swim, and many even compete in meets with the club.
In general, and as many know, swimming is well accepted as a good activity for health and overall fitness, and the number of people swimming at the SaddleBrooke One and SaddleBrooke TWO pools attests to this knowledge. In fact, several of the current members older than 80 were told by physicians that it was the best activity that they could undertake for their particular illness or for knee and shoulder replacements.
So, what has inspired these 80 and older swimmers to continue to join each year and stay with the club versus just swimming on their own? The consensus is that the club offers additional physical, social, and mental advantages to each individual. “I could swim myself and never improve,” says Stan S., “Where else could I get superb and consistent coaching, focusing on technique and fitness, every time I practice? The practices encourage me to get better … and bring out the best in me.”
For those octogenarians who compete (and about 50% still do), the swim meets are a time to socialize and help to inspire each other. “Every time I get on the block at the beginning of a race, I aim to win, and I often don’t, but it still is fun, and it gives me a goal,” says a longtime competitor.
Most members agree that the club is also about fun and camaraderie, both in the pool and out. “We share in our struggles—we all have physical problems—and we share in our progress and learn from each other. I never feel alone, and there is always a coach or another swimmer to encourage me,” mentioned one swimmer. Several also talked about the advantages of socializing in the hot tub and at social events and meets.
While many octogenarians were previous swimmers, some never swam until retirement. Whether new or experienced, several report that swimming is their mainstay and passion and that they have built lasting friendships. “We wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Jill F., speaking on behalf of herself and her husband (also older than 80) who are both longtime members of the club.
“The Swim Club builds confidence that, even at 80-plus, I can still swim. And whether swimming is your passion or one of many, you can build lasting friendships and lasting confidence.”